Red Bay officials, residents look at revitalization plans

RED BAY- City officials and residents attended a public hearing hosted by the North Alabama Council of Local Governments (NACOLG) Thursday to discuss a downtown revitalization project targeting deteriorating buildings and vacant lots.

NACOLG representative Lucas Blankenship said Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs have been discussed during two previous preliminary meetings with Red Bay Mayor Bobby Forsythe and city council members as well as the local business coalition “Main Street and Beyond,” and everyone seems to be on board.

“To apply and receive funds through this program you must have lots of support from your community,” Blankenship said. “They will act as the driving force to make things happen. If you have a plan in place and you know exactly what you are pursuing then that gives you a huge benefit during the application process.”

During the hearing, Blankenship referred to the targeted area on an aerial map which includes “everything from the train tracks to two blocks south of the main strip” and from the Red Bay public library down to Subway on the west end of town.

Blankenship said the funds produced by the program would hit the highpoints in the targeted area including the improvement of public works, public facilities, housing rehabilitation and other areas that need a little sprucing up.

“There are seven vacant lots located within the targeted area that could potentially make good spots for new businesses,” Blankenship said. “The more businesses a town has, the more traffic that is created, the better the livelihood for the town. More businesses and more tax dollars is what all towns thrive on.”

According to CDBG requirements, all projects must meet one of the national objectives of the program which are: program must benefit 51 percent low and moderate income families, aid in the prevention of clearance of slum and blight or meet an urgent need.

Blankenship said in this case, the funds received would go towards the aid and prevention of clearance of slum and blight.

“My partner and I are confident that we have put together a plan to go after $40,000 to go towards downtown revitalization efforts,” Blankenship said. “We have ran the numbers and that is what we have come away with.”

Mayor Forsythe said the town seems to be very supportive of going after funds to help the town.

“I believe we have already gotten 403 names on a petition and around 37 letters telling us to proceed,” he said. “I’m always happy to see our town pull together and go after something to make the town better.”

The CDBG program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is administered in Alabama by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).

City officials encourage residents to keep sending letters voicing their opinions on the program to city hall.

A petition has also been posted at city hall for those in support of the program.

NACOLG will present resolutions to the council Monday, July 19 at 7 p.m. inside city hall during their regularly scheduled meeting.

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